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Law firm merger talks heat up; is Patton Boggs the latest firm in merger talks?

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Law firm merger talks heat up; is Patton Boggs the latest firm in merger talks?

Oct 28, 2013, 12:49 pm CDT

New reports of potential law firm mergers highlight a hot merger market for the year.

Reuters broke the news this weekend about the latest potential tie-up: Patton Boggs is said to be discussing a possible merger with Locke Lord. The Wall Street Journal (sub. req.) notes the recent reports and concludes that “merger talks between major law firms are heating up this fall.”

Neither Patton Boggs nor Locke Lord confirmed the talks, though both issued statements about seeking to improve their platforms or find growth opportunities. The Wall Street Journal says talks between the two firms are not yet in an advanced stage.

Other firms discussing a merger: Orrick Herrington & Sutcliffe and Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman, as well as Dentons and McKenna Long & Aldridge.

At least 58 mergers between U.S. law firms have been announced this year, according to legal consulting firm Altman Weil. Activity in the first half of the year was the highest since 2008, Reuters says.

Reuters based its Patton Boggs report on three anonymous sources. Two former Patton Boggs partners said they learned about talks with Locke Lord from lawyers who remained at Patton Boggs. A person with inside knowledge of the talks would not confirm or deny that the potential merger partner was Locke Lord, the story says.

The former partners also told Reuters that Patton Boggs is in separate merger talks with a law firm outside the United States.

A statement issued by Patton Boggs said all law firms that recognize the changing conditions should be seeking ways to improve their platform for their partners and their clients, according to Reuters. “If we find a combination that accomplishes these goals, we would have an announcement if and when we pursue it,” the statement said.

Locke Lord gave Reuters a statement saying that it regularly looks at growth opportunities, but it “never affirms or denies any speculation about … potential mergers.”

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